Moneysupermarket.com Q1 Revenues Up 19%; To Pay Special Dividend In May

Moneysupermarket.com Group PLC (MONY.L) on Thursday reported first-quarter revenues of 104.9 million pounds, an increase of 19 percent from 88.3 million pounds in the prior-year quarter. Revenue growth was 12 percent, excluding Decision Technologies.

The company noted that motor insurance benefited from improved conversion, but was partially offset by subdued trading in life insurance as competitors spent more on their customer incentives.

Positive momentum in Money continued, albeit lapping a weak quarter in the prior-year period.

Mark Lewis, CEO of Moneysupermarket.com Group, said, “The reinvent strategy continues with a strong first quarter of trading, notably helping a record number of customers beat the rising energy price cap.”

Looking ahead to fiscal 2019, the Board of Moneysupermarket.com Group said it remains confident of meeting current market expectations. While performance of Home Services was exceptional in the first quarter, the company expects this to moderate through the year.

In mid-February, Moneysupermarket.com’s announced a proposed 40 million pounds enhanced distribution and related shareholder consultation. The company’s board confirmed today that this will be made by way of a special dividend.

The special dividend of 7.46 pence per share will be paid on 21 May 2019 to shareholders on the register on 3 May 2019. Shares will trade ex-dividend from 2 May 2019.

Ted Baker to overhaul HR functions in the wake of founder probe

Ted Baker has announced the conclusion of an investigation into harassment allegations levelled at founder Ray Kelvin, which identified “several areas for improvement” in the clothing retailer’s HR practices.

The probe, carried out by Herbert Smith Freehills, focused on the company’s policies, procedures and handling of HR-related complaints.

Following interviews with current and former employees, the law firm identified “several areas for improvement in the company’s HR policies and procedures”.

As a result, Ted Baker has begun a “refresh of its HR policies to ensure their alignment with current best practice”.

However, the company refused to comment on the specific allegations which were made against Mr Kelvin, who was accused of enforcing a “hugging” culture at the company.

Accusations were also made that he massaged employees, kissed their ears and asked some to sit on his lap.

Chairman David Bernstein said: “We are determined to learn from this process and, moving forward, cultivate a better environment for all employees where they always feel respected and valued.

“We are implementing changes and improvements and are committed to developing best-practice HR policies and procedures that reflect the Ted culture we are looking to develop and enhance in the future.”

The high street fashion chain will embark on renewed training for all employees on HR policies and procedures and on acceptable workplace conduct, and maintain an independent and confidential whistleblowing hotline.

It will also look to enhance the oversight of both people and culture matters at the board level.

Ted Baker also announced that acting boss Lindsay Page will become chief executive on a permanent basis with immediate effect following Mr Kelvin’s departure earlier this year.ADVERTISEMENTLearn more

He said: “I am delighted to have been chosen by the board to be the company’s new CEO.

“We have a strong brand and outstanding teams around the world, and I am confident that together we will continue to build on our success and continue to develop Ted Baker as a global lifestyle brand.”

Mike Ashley weighs in with desperate rescue offer for Debenhams

Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has made a revised £200m (€232m) rescue offer for Debenhams, delaying the department store’s likely administration.

The offer involves underwriting a rights issue which would see existing investors buying newly issued shares and is an advance on an £150m (€174m) plan tabled on Monday, which was rejected.

Under Mr Ashley’s latest proposal, Debenhams’ lenders would have to agree to write off £82m (€95m) of its £720m (€836m) debt mountain, as well as install the tycoon as chief executive.

Lenders to Debenhams said the latest proposal, on the terms set out, was “not sufficient”.

Debenhams said in a statement: “The board confirms that it received a revised, highly-conditional, proposal from Sports Direct in the early hours of 9 April, which indicated a willingness of Sports Direct to underwrite an equity issue of £200m.

“The company’s lenders have confirmed to the company that the proposal, on the terms set out, was not sufficient to justify an extension to the 8 April deadline.

“The company anticipates making a further announcement during the course of the day following further discussions with its lenders.”

Debenhams is now widely expected to fall into administration and the retailer’s lenders seize control of the company in a move tipped to trigger store closures and job losses.

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Shareholders such as Mr Ashley’s Sports Direct, which holds a 30pc stake, will see their investments wiped out.

The pre-pack administration undertaken by the struggling department store chain will see its debt reduced and comes ahead of a wider restructuring which will see around 50 stores close via a Company Voluntary Arrangement.

It will also see a £200m refinancing plan, announced in March, go ahead.ADVERTISEMENTLearn more

Mr Ashley’s attempts to take control of Debenhams had become increasingly desperate, and over the weekend the businessman demanded the board be investigated, two members to undergo lie detector tests and trading in its shares to be suspended.

Sports Direct added on Tuesday that it is continuing to “actively evaluate” a conventional takeover, priced at 5p per share.